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Before we tell you how ING is now certifying Muslim youth speakers, we wanted to share the good news that ING was invited to the White House by Barack and Michelle Obama last week for the express purpose of thanking us for all of the work that we do on religious literacy, from educating Americans about Islam and Muslims to our work in interfaith peacebuilding. Chief Executive Officer Maha Elgenaidi attended the event accompanied by the ING New Jersey affiliate Director, Seham Abdallah, with two of her board members. The morning event was followed by a series of business meetings that Maha attended at the White House on countering Islamophobia.
Certifying Muslim youth to speak about Islam in their
schools through the INGYouth program
Workshops held at MCC mosque in Pleasanton, California
After the workshop, one student remarked, “I can’t wait to go out and talk to my classmates to help change stereotypes about Islam and Muslims!”
On Saturday, October 22, 2016, ING hosted its thirteenth INGYouth & Parents Workshops and its second Youth Speakers Training at the Muslim Community Center East Bay (MCC). Twenty-eight Bay Area youth attended the all-day training, along with eight of their parents who participated in a corresponding parent workshop. INGYouth Coordinator Ishaq Pathan facilitated the youth workshop, which focused on bullying prevention, Muslim-American identity development, and public speaking skills, while ING Content Director Ameena Jandali worked with parents to address common concerns related to student rights and school engagement.
The training began with students sharing personal experiences of bullying and harassment, with one student speaking about an instance where a classmate attempted to rip off her hijab. These stories came swiftly and easily as almost all of the students gave examples of a time that they were bullied because of their perceived religion or ethnicity. Starting from these real life experiences and other bullying scenarios that were provided, students then had the opportunity to talk about methods that they could use to handle negative behavior and aggression in the future. One of our goals with this workshop was to give the youth the critical thinking skills needed to confront these challenging issues head on and in a safe and productive manner. In seeing the student’s engagement and speaking with them after the event, we believe we accomplished just that and more!
The second half of the day focused on speaker training and certification for our INGYouth Speakers program. By utilizing our youth-tailored content and curriculum, we were able to give students the skills needed to give presentations about Islam and Muslims in their schools and to help them respond to frequently asked questions about their faith. Students practiced these skills by role-playing scenarios and giving mock presentations to the entire group. After the workshop, one student remarked, “I can’t wait to go out and talk to my classmates about Islam and Muslims and help change stereotypes!”
Not to be outdone by the youth, parents participated in a rich discussion of their own. Ameena addressed Islamophobia and issues related to student’s rights to practice their religion in a school setting, while also touching on the challenges that Muslim children face in today’s world. One of these specific challenges is the continued struggle of dealing with biased teachers and educators. During the workshop, parents talked about ways to address these issues and learned how to advocate for their children to receive fair and unbiased treatment. Along with gaining important information about student rights and bullying prevention, many parents said that they came away from the event feeling that they were part of a community that understands the unique challenges that their children face.
Visit this page for more information on INGYouth and Parent Workshops, this page for more information on INGYouth Speaker Certification, and this page for INGYouth tools for Muslim students to use in the classroom. To request an INGYouth workshop in your town, contact INGYouth Coordinator Ishaq Pathan at [email protected] Workshops are free of charge; however, donations to ING are appreciated.
These programs are a small part of ING’s national leadership. Help us grow our footprint online and offline by donating online or mailing a check to ING (3031 Tisch Way, Suite 950, San Jose, CA 95218).
Content Director, Islamic Networks Group